Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hebrews 12, 1-4

With so many witnesses in a great cloud all around us, we too, then, should throw off everything that weighs us down and the sin that clings so closely, and with perseverance keep running in the race which lies ahead of us.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which lay ahead of him, he endured the cross, disregarding the shame of it, and has taken his seat at the right of God's throne.

Think of the way he persevered against such opposition from sinners and then you will not lose heart and come to grief.

In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of bloodshed.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After narrating a long story of the witnesses of faith, the Letter exhorts and encourages the community directly so that its members do not feel alone: they are a part of a long story of faith. Indeed, they are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” that sustain, exhort and encourage them to persevere in the faith and discipleship of Jesus. Using an image dear to Paul, the author of this letter uses the image of a race, so that Christians may generously persist in the struggle of faith. As with any race, one must set aside every burden and impediment of sin that weights one down, and must keep one’s eyes fixed on the goal, Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” Christians are called to imitate Christ. In this sense, they always remain disciples, that is, believers who listen and follow the Master in every season of their lives. Disciples understand the urgency of time and do not wait, hesitate or procrastinate. They know that every season has its own opportune moment that is not to be lost. Thus perseverance is needed. The Letter, which speaks about joy and the cross, can sound like a contradiction. In truth Christian joy cannot but pass through the wounds of pain and suffering; it cannot avoid touching in some way Jesus’ wounds. The author explains that to be a follower of Christ means to accept his cross, that is to withstand opposition and threats in order to reach our home in Heaven. This is why believers should not take their eyes off Jesus: “Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart” (Heb 12:3). The Gospel becomes a mirror Christians should face everyday; being different from the world always involves opposition. The disciple is not less than his/her Master. Nevertheless, we have not “resisted to the point of shedding [our] blood” as Jesus did and as the innumerable martyrs in the faith have. In the strains and struggles of life it is easy to give up, to adapt to the surrounding mentality, seeking a balance and some well being, forgetting that joy comes from “giving more than receiving.” The martyrs and witnesses to the faith whom John Paul II wanted to commemorate during the great Jubilee of 2000 remain for us a sign of Christian life, of men and women who even in sufferings and tribulations have lived the joy of the Gospel.